John 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 3:1, NIV: "Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council."

John 3:1, ESV: "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews."

John 3:1, KJV: "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:"

John 3:1, NASB: "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;"

John 3:1, NLT: "There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee."

John 3:1, CSB: "There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews."

What does John 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Pharisees were legalistic, extremely moral Jews. Their commitment to purity led them to add hundreds of laws to those of Moses, covering all possible situations. The term "Pharisee" is used as a criticism today, but in their day Pharisees were honored for their religious commitment. They were also scholars of the law, and well-educated in religious concepts.

Nicodemus was not just a Pharisee, but a member of the Sanhedrin, a 70-man local court. This made Nicodemus the modern equivalent of a politician, priest, and professor all rolled into one. Most people would have addressed him as "Rabbi," a term he will apply to Jesus in verse 2. Despite the negative use of the term today, not all Pharisees were hard-hearted or unreachable. Nicodemus is direct proof of this. He recognizes the divine origin of Jesus' power (John 3:2). He will go on to defend Jesus in front of the other Pharisees (John 7:50–51), and donate embalming materials for His burial (John 19:39–42).

Joseph of Arimathea is another Pharisee who disproves the thought that all Pharisees were hard-hearted and spiritually numb. He is seen several times in the Gospels, and helps with the burial of Jesus (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50–51.